Labour draws up strategy for power

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The Independent Online
The scale of the electoral mountain Labour has to climb - despite its opinion poll lead - is dramatically underlined in a secret document prepared earlier this year by one of the party leadership's closest advisers.

The leaked memorandum, written by Philip Gould, one of the country's leading political consultants, proposes a dramatic concentration of day- to-day campaigning control in the hands of the Party leader Tony Blair and his most immediate lieutenant.

Although the document was prepared seven months ago, before Mr Blair secured his signal victory in the vote on replacing Clause IV, the leak is timed to ensure that it will overshadow the key note speech Mr Blair will make to the TUC Congress in Brighton today.

The sensitivity of the document is underlined by the fact that some - though not all - of its detailed recommendations have already been implemented. Mr Gould has an important responsibility for the co- ordination of research into the "focus groups" of disaffected Tory voters in the 1992 General Election who have turned against the Government. That research has helped to underpin much of Mr Blair's strategy since he became leader in July of last year.

The document takes a strikingly bleak view of the party's lack of coherent political purpose back in March of this year and argues that it is not yet a "coherent" or "integrated" political party "sharing the same political ideology".

Mr Gould's analysis - shared only with a close-knit group of senior Labour figures - argues that the party still lacks "a political project that matches that of the Thatcher agenda of 1979, nor one that will be able to sustain Labour in government and transform Britain".

Mr Gould's proposal is that Labour should produce its equivalent to the pre-1979 Thatcher-inspired Tory document The Right Approach in the spring of 1996.

The document proposes that Labour should set up a policy operation reporting directly to the leader on the model and scale of the policy unit at 10, Downing Street. And it suggests that Mr Blair should take personal charge of a day-to-day campaigning committee in which the roles of four key figures in his private office are identified. These are Jonathan Powell, his head of office who should be responsible for "co-ordination", Alastair Campbell to disseminate the "message", Peter Mandleson (MP for Hartlepool and one of Mr Blair's closest advisers) for "implementation" and Joy Johnson (Labour's director of communications and campaigning) in charge of "rebuttal".

Labour sources last night claimed that the Guardian had published a "distorted summary" of the document and pointed out how long ago it had been written. They added that the suggestion that Mr Blair should take command of day- to-day campaigning had not been followed through and that this role had been allotted to Mr Blair's fellow moderniser, Gordon Brown.

Document details, page 2